By Brian Willwerth
In the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins have this whole sudden-death overtime thing down to a science.
On Monday night, the offensive hero was David Krejci, whose goal at 14:01 of the extra period gave the Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, and a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Bruins have played four overtime games in this year’s postseason, and won all four.
But the bigger reason is Tim Thomas. That’s because he’s playing like, well, Tim Thomas. 52 saves speaks for itself.
It didn’t take long for the Flyers to get on the board. James van Riemsdyk scored his sixth goal of the playoffs just 29 seconds into the contest. Nine minutes later, it was van Riemsdyk again, this time on the power play, to give Philadelphia a 2-0 advantage. It would be the last time the puck would get behind Thomas.
The Bruins would answer later in the period. Chris Kelly got Boston on the board at the 12:50 mark. 85-seconds later, Brad Marchand pulled the Bruins even. It was the fourth goal of the playoffs for both Kelly and Marchand. The teams combined for 30 shots in the opening 20 minutes of play.
The second period featured no scoring, but a change in net for the Flyers. Starting goaltender Brian Boucher left the game with an injury, and was replaced by Sergei Bobrovski. Boucher would return to action in the third period.
On the Bruins’ end, not surprisingly, Tim Thomas played the whole game. He was outstanding throughout, but especially in the final period. He faced 22 shots, and stopped them all. And many of them weren’t just ordinary shots; they were point-blank opportunities. In the closing seconds, he caught a break when Danny Briere couldn’t control a bouncing puck with an empty net starting him in the face. The game remained tied after 60 minutes of play.
In overtime, the Flyers continued to keep the pressure on Thomas, with 10 more shots on goal. But in the end, it was the Bruins who got the last hurrah. Krejci took a pass from Nathan Horton and slapped it past Boucher for the game-winner, or so the Bruins thought. It was originally ruled no-goal. But replays clearly showed the puck hitting the top of the inside of the net. The referee reviewed it, the goal counted, and the Bruins’ celebration spilled on to the ice.
The Bruins would be wise not to think about recent history right now. For the second year in a row, they’ve won the first two games of a playoff series against the Flyers. We know how that turned out. In the first series against Montreal, the Canadiens won the first two games on the road. We know how that turned out.
And then there’s the Bruins’ power play: 0-for-28 in the postseason.
But the bottom line is this: they are two wins away from the conference finals. Game 3 is Wednesday night at TD Garden.